To rank the world’s richest and poorest countries for 2016, we consider GDP per capita, adjusted for relative purchasing power.

Author: Luca Ventura
Project Coordinator: B Pham
Mumbia, India

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR A NATION TO BE RICH? 

Would you rather be rich in a poor country or poor in a rich one? Measuring how rich a country is is not so that easy (spoiler: it is not just about the GDP). Measuring how rich you are depends to a large degree on how rich and poor countries are defined.

If we simply consider a nation's gross domestic product (GDP)—the sum total of all goods and services produced by a country during one year—then we would have to conclude that the richest nations are exactly the ones with the largest GDP: United States, China, Japan, Germany. But how could the economies, for example, of San Marino or Luxembourg ever match that of such powerhouses when they are no more than tiny dots on the world map?

Another problem with GDP is that it does not measure wealth distribution. That is why a more accurate representation of people’s living conditions begins with dividing a nation's GDP by the number of people that live there: per capita GDP and its growth rate tell tells us much more about the social wealth potentially available to each person and whether this wealth is either increasing or decreasing over time.

However, using per capital GDP poses a problem: the very same income can buy very little in some countries and go much further in others where basic necessities—food, clothing, shelter, or healthcare—cost far less. To gauge how a country’s citizens are wealthy it is necessary to understand how much they are able to buy. That is why, when comparing per capita GDP across countries, GDP should be adjusted for purchasing power parity, which helps us take into account inflation rates and price of goods and services in each given place. 

In conclusion, when considering whether it is better to be rich in a poor country or poor in a rich one, the best chance of enjoying an excellent living standard is to reside in a richer nation no matter where a person falls on the income distribution scale. However, it is always advisable to do some more in-depth studying: averages never tell the whole story.

Values are expressed in current international dollars, to the nearest whole dollar, reflecting a single year's (2018) currency exchange rates and PPP adjustments.​


Rank

Country

GDP-PPP ($)

1 Qatar 134,623
2 Macao SAR 122,201
3 Luxembourg 108,813
4 Singapore 103,717
5 Brunei Darussalam 83,777
6 Ireland 82,439
7 Norway 76,738
8 United Arab Emirates 70,474
9 Kuwait 67,969
10 Hong Kong SAR 66,517
11 Switzerland 65,707
12 United States 64,767
13 San Marino 61,552
14 Netherlands 58,255
15 Saudi Arabia 56,817
16 Iceland 56,530
17 Taiwan Province of China 55,244
18 Sweden 54,071
19 Germany 53,854
20 Austria 53,716
21 Australia 53,559
22 Denmark 53,552
23 Bahrain 50,868
24 Canada 50,626
25 Belgium 49,480
26 Malta 48,246
27 Finland 48,006
28 France 46,978
29 United Kingdom 46,782
30 Oman 46,476
31 Japan 45,565
32 Korea 42,985
33 Cyprus 41,836
34 Spain 41,538
35 New Zealand 41,179
36 Puerto Rico 40,796
37 Italy 40,206
38 Aruba 40,160
39 Israel 39,160
40 Czech Republic 39,088
41 Slovenia 38,634
42 Slovak Republic 37,021
43 Lithuania 36,997
44 Estonia 35,718
45 The Bahamas 34,421
46 Poland 33,747
47 Hungary 33,708
48 Portugal 33,166
49 Trinidad and Tobago 32,684
50 Malaysia 32,455
51 Seychelles 31,809
52 Latvia 31,491
53 St. Kitts and Nevis 31,095
54 Greece 30,506
55 Russia 30,284
56 Antigua and Barbuda 29,298
57 Kazakhstan 28,515
58 Romania 27,753
59 Croatia 27,580
60 Turkey 27,391
61 Panama 27,305
62 Chile 27,059
63 Mauritius 25,029
64 Bulgaria 24,485
65 Uruguay 24,052
66 Maldives 23,154
67 Equatorial Guinea 21,441
68 Mexico 21,107
69 Belarus 20,820
70 Thailand 20,474
71 Argentina 20,425
72 Turkmenistan 20,409
73 Montenegro 19,908
74 China 19,520
75 Dominican Republic 19,516
76 Gabon 19,159
77 Barbados 18,798
78 Azerbaijan 18,794
79 Botswana 18,654
80 Serbia 18,567
81 Islamic Republic of Iran 18,505
82 Costa Rica 18,183
83 Iraq 18,008
84 Grenada 17,071
85 Brazil 16,662
86 North Macedonia 16,455
87 Algeria 15,765
88 Colombia 15,576
89 Suriname 15,526
90 Palau 15,369
91 Lebanon 15,208
92 St. Lucia 15,000
93 Peru 14,892
94 Mongolia 14,270
95 Bosnia and Herzegovina 14,164
96 Albania 14,102
97 Egypt 14,028
98 Indonesia 14,019
99 Sri Lanka 13,954
100 Paraguay 13,913
101 South Africa 13,865
102 Tunisia 12,801
103 Nauru 12,433
104 St. Vincent and the Grenadines 12,431
105 Georgia 12,282
106 Kosovo 12,154
107 Libya 12,051
108 Ecuador 11,700
109  Namibia 11,369
110 Eswatini 11,089
111 Dominica 10,866
112 Armenia 10,828
113 Fiji 10,710
114 Bhutan 10,015
115 Ukraine 9,743
116 Jamaica 9,729
117 Jordan 9,651
118 Philippines 9,494
119 Morocco 9,284
120 Guyana 8,974
121 Guatemala 8,709
122 Belize 8,642
123 Lao P.D.R. 8,485
124 India 8,484
125 El Salvador 8,313
126 Uzbekistan 8,065
127 Vietnam 8,063
128 Bolivia 7,790
129 Cabo Verde 7,727
130 Moldova 7,700
131 Republic of Congo 7,119
132 Myanmar 7,029
133 Ghana 6,998
134 Angola 6,763
135 Tonga 6,496
136 Samoa 6,135
137 Nigeria 6,098
138 Pakistan 5,839
139 Timor-Leste 5,561
140 Nicaragua 5,433
141 Honduras 5,390
142 Bangladesh 4,993
143 Cambodia 4,643
144 Còte d'Ivoire 4,454
145 Tuvalu 4,275
146 Mauritania 4,201
147 Zambia 4,177
148 Sudan 4,089
149 Djibouti 3,999
150 Kyrgyz Republic 3,979
151 Cameroon 3,965
152 Kenya 3,863
153 Senegal 3,864
154 Papua New Guinea 3,789
155 Marshall Islands 3,788
156 Micronesia 3,584
157 Tajikistan 3,578
158 Tanzania 3,573
159 Lesotho 3,564
160 Sao Tomè and Prìncipe 3,441
161 Nepal 3,115
162 Vanuatu 2,932
163 The Gambia 2,903
164 Uganda 2,622
165 Zimbabwe 2,620
166 Benin 2,562
167 Ethiopia 2,517
168 Chad 2,505
169 Mali 2,474
170 Rwanda 2,444
171 Guinea 2,429
172 Yemen 2,404
173 Solomon Islands 2,297
174 Kiribati 2,134
175 Burkina Faso 2,096
176 Afghanistan 2,086
177 Guinea-Bissau 2,025
178 Haiti 1,903
179 Togo 1,820
180 Eritrea 1,718
181 Sierra Leone 1,701
182 Madagascar 1,698
183 Comoros 1,662
184 South Sudan 1,613
185 Liberia 1,413
186 Mozambique 1,331
187 Niger 1,280
188 Malawi 1,234
189 Democratic Republic of the Congo 791
190 Central African Republic 746
191 Burundi 727

Source: International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook April 2019.